Reconciling certification and intact forest landscape conservation
In 2014, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) added a new criterion to its principles that requires protection of intact forest landscapes (IFLs). An IFL is an extensive area of forest that lacks roads and other signs of human activity as detected through remote sensing. In the Congo basin, our analysis of road networks in formally approved concessionary logging areas revealed greater loss of IFL in certified than in noncertified concessions. In areas of informal (i.e., nonregulated) extraction, road networks are known to be less detectable by remote sensing. Under the current definition of IFL, companies certified under FSC standards are likely to be penalized relative to the noncertified as well as the informal logging sector on account of their planned road networks, despite an otherwise better standard of forest management. This could ultimately undermine certification and its wider adoption, with implications for the future of sustainable forest management.